From the pulpit where he stood one day last week, Richard James Cardinal Cushing, 68, looked down not at the familiar Irish faces of his own Boston congregation but rather into the docile and questioning gaze of brown Peruvian eyes. The occasion was the blessing of a new brick-and-concrete Roman Catholic church in a slum suburb of Lima.
The path to the pulpit has been as colorful as it has been unusual for Alysa Stanton, 45, America’s first-ever female African-American rabbi. Stanton, who was born to a Christian family, was formally ordained on June 6, having completed seven years of rabbinical training at Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Stanton will now assume her new role as the first nonwhite rabbi of Congregation Bayt Shalom, a 60-family synagogue in Greenville, N.C